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Melting silicon 'in reverse' can help purify it, result in cheaper electronics

Vlad Savov
08.02.10
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Just our favorite combination of news: a mind-bending innovation that can have a very practical impact on our daily tech consumption. MIT scientists have found that silicon -- when combined in the right dosage with other metals -- can actually be made to melt by reducing its temperature. Typically, you'd require 1,414 degrees of Celsius heat to liquidize solid silicon, but the intermixed variant discussed here need only reach 900 degrees before its slow cooling process starts turning it gooey. The great advantage to this discovery is that because the impurities tend to separate off into the liquid part, there's now a practicable way to filter them out, meaning that things like solar cells won't require the same high grade of silicon purity for their construction -- which in turn might lead to us being able to afford them one day. Of course, that's getting way too far ahead of ourselves, as the research is still ongoing, but good news is good news no matter the timescale.

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